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Welfare incomes across Canada continue to fall further below the poverty line, according to a report released last week by the National Council of Welfare.

For single people, their income was only one-fifth the poverty line – as little as $3,298 a year in St. John’s, or $6,461 a year in Vancouver.

Families on welfare fared only slightly better. In Alberta, the income of a single parent was less than half the poverty line. The income of a two-parent family in Ontario was worth just 20 per cent of the average income of families the same size. In Quebec, the welfare income of a couple with two children reached only 49 per cent of the poverty line.

The Council notes that families on welfare now receive a larger share of their income from the federal government – but less from provincial governments. Since the National Child Benefit began in 1998, all provinces reduced their payments to families on welfare either by clawing back part of the National Child Benefit, or by allowing inflation to erode their share. Only Newfoundland and New Brunswick do not claw back the National Child Benefit.

The report also noted that the welfare incomes of people with disabilities are in a slow decline. While people with disabilities were spared the direct cuts many provinces imposed in the last decade, their incomes have not kept pace with inflation.